Fast and Furious — No End in Sight for this Debacle
Something smells here. This morning the President asserted Executive Privilege over Dept. of Justice (DOJ) documents relating to the Fast and Furious (F/F) investigation that were under subpoena by the House Oversight Committee. Has the President seen or read some of these documents? Was he briefed by his Atty General or other White House advisers as to what the documents contained before he granted Executive Privilege?
Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it best this morning, after hearing of the granting of Executive Privilege:
How can the president assert executive privilege if there was no White House involvement? How can the president exert executive privilege over documents he’s supposedly never seen? Is something very big being hidden to go to this extreme?
Atty. General Holder’s letter to the President requesting he extend Executive Privilege over the requested documents is based upon his belief and assertion that the House Oversight Committee’s request does not meet “demonstrably critical” requirement as he denotes in Section III. of his letter, citing Special Counsel Assertion going back to the Nixon era.
A congressional committee “may overcome an assertion of executive privilege only if it establishes that the subpoenaed documents are ‘demonstrably critical to the responsible fulfillment of the Committee’s functions.'”
Further, Holder asserts:
The Committee has not satisfied the “demonstrably critical” standard with respect to the documents at issue. The Committee has said that it needs the post-February 4 documents “related to the department’s response to Congress” concerning Fast and Furious in order to “examine the Department’s mismanagement of its response to Operation Fast and Furious.”
At the threshold, it is not evident that the Committee’s asserted need to review the management of the Department’s response to congressional inquiries furthers a legislative function of Congress.
Holder also makes the claim that turning over the documents would raise concerns about separation of powers and be akin to litigation lawyers disclosing their deliberations to adversaries.
Compelled disclosure of such material , regardless of whether a given document contains deliberative content, would raise “significant separation of powers concerns,”
Congressional oversight of the process by which the Executive Branch responds to congressional oversight inquiries would create a detrimental dynamic that is quite similar to what would occur in litigation if lawyers had to disclose to adversaries their deliberations about the case, and specifically about how to respond to their adversaries’ discovery requests.
The use of the analogy of litigation lawyers and “adversaries” is interesting. I thought the purpose of the F/F investigation was an attempt by Congress and the DOJ to get to the truth of who authorized this debacle of a program, and what was the flawed reasoning behind it.
Obfuscating through semantics and the extension of Executive Privilege sends another clear message to the voters, including that oh so important Hispanic vote, i.e., we’ll tell you what the truth is when we’re ready. Hundreds of Mexican citizens were killed as a result Fast and Furious, but then, they can’t vote.